The Man of Steel. The Last Son of Krypton. The Big Blue Boy Scout. Kal-El. Superman. Clark Kent. Whatever you choose to call him, there's no denying the fact that he's been an influential character in comics ever since his creation. I'm expecting great things from Tyler Hoechlin's performance of the character on Supergirl, and with the hype machine for the newly-announced Man of Steel sequel going full blast, I decided there was no better time to remind us all that even a noble bastion of superheroism like Superman had some seriously wacky stuff go down during his long history. Don't believe me? Well check out these ten crazy facts about everyone's favorite Kryptonian!
1) His Disguise Is More Than Glasses
Some people think Superman is stupid for not wearing a mask. I've got news for you: you're not wrong. But people who hold to the belief that putting on a pair of glasses suddenly fools an entire city? I'm about to rock your world. See, Clark Kent realizes that the glasses aren't enough, and he's figured out several clever ways to compensate. First of all, it might surprise you to learn that, (at least in the comics), Superman's mild-mannered alter ego pulls a trick that is also used by The Flash: he changes the vibration of his vocal cords and makes his voice sound different. Also in the comics, he wears glasses, (DUH!) but there's more to the glasses than just that. These glasses have tinted lenses, which appear to make his eyes a different color. Add that to the fact that Clark Kent wears loose-fitting clothes to distance himself from the skintight costume of Superman, and you'd never guess this Kansas farm boy was the Man of Steel. Interestingly, I've been told there is an episode of The Animated Adventures of Superman in which the Daily Planet holds an office costume party, which Clark attends dressed as Superman, but wearing his glasses and a much more loose-fitting Superman costume. Lois Lane scoffs that he doesn't fill out the costume as well as the real Superman. If only she knew!
2) Batman Pays Superman's Salary
Well, sort of. The truth of the matter is this: Wayne Enterprises has a finger in countless pies, and one of them is the newspaper business. Bruce Wayne is part owner of the Daily Planet, meaning that Batman effectively does pay Superman's salary. I bet that makes for some awkward conversations at the Watchtower!
3) Darth Vader Was Almost Perry White
Yup, Darth Vader as Perry White was almost a thing. The producers of Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman wanted the legendary James Earl Jones, the voice of Darth Vader, to portray Superman's boss, Daily Planet editor Perry White. However, the studio and advertisers behind the show declared that the world wasn't ready for a black Perry White, so Lane Smith was cast instead. However, in 2013, Zack Snyder decided that the world needed a black Perry White whether it was ready or not, and cast Laurence Fishburne in Man of Steel.
4) The 1950s Jor-El Wore A Flash Gordon Costume
Jor-El, Superman's Kryptonian father, only appeared in the pilot episode of the 1950s television show about his offspring, but the episode was shot on such a minimal budget that the crew had to scramble for costumes. Because of this, Jor-El actually wore an old Flash Gordon costume that was still lying around from Buster Crabbe's turn as one of the first sci-fi heroes. Interestingly, other costumes used by Kryptonians in the episode had previously been used in Captain America and Captain Marvel.
5) The Silver Age Lex Luthor Blamed Superman For Making Him Bald
Way back in the "Silver Age" of comic books, Superman was still growing up and was referred to as "Superboy", a name which, ironically, he passed on to his clone in later stories (don't ask, it's too complicated). But the point is, Lex was a close friend of Superboy's until the day an explosion set his lab (and his full head of red hair) on fire. Superboy showed up, used his freeze breath to douse the blaze, and in the process, destroyed Lex's hair. The poor guy has been bald ever since, and he holds the Man of Steel personally responsible.
6) Superman Has Had Some Interesting Powers Over the Years
Superman has a massive power set for any one hero, but he's had some that have gone in and out of existence that are... let's just say, a little bit on the stranger side. For starters, pictured above is his New 52 power, the Super Flare. Basically, Superman's laser vision gives off a single concussive blast that has roughly the same force as a nuclear bomb. However, once this blast has been released, Superman's powers are completely gone for the next 24 hours so his cells can recharge from such a gigantic energy expenditure. Another of his more outlandish powers was his ability to launch a miniature, sentient version of himself from his hand to help him defeat baddies. This power ultimately led to Superman becoming jealous of his smaller self until it heroically sacrificed itself to save him in battle. Not gonna lie, as weird as that sounds, I really want to see it now. It'd be hilarious fun to watch. Are you listening, Geoff Johns and Zack Snyder?
7) Superman Caused An Argument Between Einstein and Asimov
Albert Einstein sent a letter to Superman editor Mort Weisinger claiming that not even Superman could move faster than the speed of light. Curious to get a second expert opinion on the matter, Weisinger consulted his buddy, science fiction writer Isaac Asimov, who responded, "Professor Einstein's statement is based on theory. Superman's speed is based on fact."
8) Superman Was Once Censored For Leaking Potential Military Secrets
The above issue of Action Comics had to be delayed in release until after World War II because the FBI feared a potential leak of the inner workings of the then-still-experimental atomic bomb. As it happened, the name "atomic bomb" was actually a misnomer in the comic, because the bomb's function in no way resembled that of an actual atomic bomb. A second story featuring this type of "atomic bomb", one in which Lex Luthor attempts to use it to destroy Superman once and for all, was also delayed until after the war for the same purpose.
9) Clark Kent Is the Only Character That Belongs To Both Marvel and DC
Now you're no doubt thinking, "Wait, what?! I thought Clark Kent was a DC character!" Well, he is - but he also isn't. Y'see, while the Man of Steel's mild-mannered alter ego is a reporter named Clark Kent who works for a newspaper, there also happens to be a Marvel character of the same name, employed in the same profession, who happens to bear a striking resemblance to the DC character. The Marvel character, (who, unlike his counterpart in the DC universe, is conspicuously lacking in superpowers and is a normal human being), first appeared in X-Men#98 and has subsequently popped up again numerous times. Why DC has never chosen to sue Marvel over this clear copyright violation is unknown, though it is commonly believed that DC doesn't care because it's free publicity for Superman.
10) He's the Only Fictional Character With A Social Security Number
Yes, as crazy as it sounds, the Man of Steel has a Social Security Number. It turns out that for some reason known only to them, the editors decided he should have one, and so they chose to reuse the number of a man who had died the previous year. For those that are curious, Superman's SSN is 092-09-6616.
Superman is a fabulous character, but even fabulous characters can have weird stuff in their history. Superman is truly an enduring classic, but no matter how amazing this stranger from the planet Krypton is, let's not forget that this handsome, bulletproof alien has some altogether goofy skeletons lurking in his closet.
Do you know any other crazy Superman trivia? Let me know in the comments below! If you haven't had enough crazy superhero trivia for one day, check out the most WTF moments from Iron Man's history below!